Carine Hajjar | August 31, 2018
(Photo: AlxeyPnferov/Getty Images)
(The Daily Signal) – Need new headphones? Amazon.
Need to get across town? Uber.
Need a date? Tinder.
Need to end world poverty? Socialism.
What do these all have in common? They are quick fixes to problems we face daily—things we need or like to confront in a timely manner. But how are they different? The first three work, the last one promises dazzling results yet always fails.
We—especially millennials—live in a culture of instant gratification. When we want to fix something, with the click of a button we have a solution.
Since the advent of mass communication, the world has become much smaller, and in some ways, much simpler. But this has created a sort of societal hubris—we have come this far, so why can’t we fix anything with the ease of a click?
This fallacy—that we can always easily gratify our needs, no matter what they may be—is most clearly manifested in socialism’s rising popularity among American leftists.
Figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claim that by boosting health care spending, the entire population will have access to quality medical care. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., claims that by taxing the rich, we can give everyone free university educations. Throw federal money at the problem and it will *poof* disappear.
And the liberal masses are eating it up. What ease! What practicality! With a wave of their legislative wand, poverty, the housing crisis, and lack of jobs go away.
Unfortunately, socialism is not the “Uber Eats” of politics, delivering instant solutions to cronyism and poverty. We want a utopia of equal health care and social benefits, and we think that by state mandates, politicians can achieve this fantasy.
The problem is, socialism is based on a utopian vision of society that has never existed and will never exist. We may be able to get groceries delivered in one hour through Amazon (i.e. the free market), but we cannot achieve income equality.
Millennials have grown up in the most globally equitable, prosperous era in all of human history, so it is natural that they have taken for granted the relative stability that has allowed all of these instant solutions to come about.
Technological changes, for example, have risen thanks to the growing amount of capital and productivity made possible by the stability of the modern era. With the click of a button, we can access romance, technology, entertainment, education, and much more.
And yet, millennials still insist we are not doing well enough. They have taken this prosperity for granted, and so they turn on the very mechanism that produced it—capitalism and its corresponding neoliberal values.
Competitive markets, in fact, have allowed the rise of tech giants, innovative finance, better production, and an overall advancement of mankind. Yet millennials do not see the millions of jobs created in developing countries—they see globalism preying on the poor. They do not see a rise in global living standards—they see crippling inequality.
Neoliberalism will not catch on with millennials any time soon, as it does not provide a quick fix. Additionally, neoliberalism would entail a transition period of deregulation and the globalization of labor that would leave some without jobs and others without the political power their money once bought them. Poverty would remain, and a degree of inequality would persist.
How, then, can we expect the younger generations not to opt for the socialist alternative, which promises to solve society’s ills with greater government intervention and taxation—all with the speed of an Amazon delivery?
In the short term, they may have a point. But the socialist project never ends well.
As the daughter of a Venezuelan immigrant, I have lived through the total demise of a country fallen prey to socialism. As a young girl, I witnessed the wealth and prosperity experienced by the Venezuelan upper class. Caracas was host to a thriving cosmopolitan culture with plenty of high-end restaurants, shopping centers, and the like.
Under President Hugo Chavez, the rich prospered while the poor celebrated their constant welfare payments and relative mobility, which helped maintain a constant Chavista voting base.
The problem came in my adolescence—the country simply ran out of money.
The poor could no longer be paid off because of hyperinflation. As Venezuelans began to run out of basic necessities like toilet paper and dish soap, the government’s seemingly infallible hand came to be questioned.
The rich fled Venezuela—and continue to flee—as business opportunities shriveled up under the weight of government intervention, particularly in the oil industry. Being under state control, Venezuela’s vast oil industry was never diversified or developed due to lack of competition.
Now, Venezuela could reach an inflation rate of over 1,000,000 percent this year, as many citizens face starvation and a total lack of health care. Decades of socialism and subsequent authoritarianism (which too often go together) have totally crippled the country, even though such policies began promisingly and made Venezuela seem as the land of opportunity in South America.
It turns out that the Chavez regime’s promises of instant socio-political prosperity did not hold up in the long run.
But surely our American socialist champions know better, right?
Well, the reality is that our socialists, like Sanders, have praised Venezuela in the past, seeing their former socioeconomic order as a haven for opportunity and equality. Sanders himself promoted the idea that nations like Venezuela offered more mobility than the modern-day U.S.
But it turns out the socialism completely stagnated Venezuela’s economy and squelched all innovation. Today, no stable business remains in Venezuela and all opportunity is gone. Want Amazon? Want a Tinder date? You’re out of luck.
So today, millennials especially must be cautious when they begin to romanticize socialism. Its promises are indeed inspiring, and many socialists’ intentions are truly good. But the outcomes will not be.
The truth is that socialism has never worked. Even the celebrated Swedish system has a highly deregulated private market, thus disqualifying it from the brand of socialism.
Even though we live in a culture of instant gratification, not all of our rapid innovations work. In this way, socialism is synonymous to crash dieting—a quick way to lose a few pounds, but never permanent and ultimately linked to unhealthy eating habits.
Capitalism is like a healthy diet and exercise regime—it takes sacrifice, but in the long term it’s sustainable and effective.
It’s time to reject the status quo of instant gratification. Will it require interim economic hardships? Possibly. Will it outlast socialism? Yes.
Most importantly, have capitalism and neoliberalism produced more innovative and prosperous societies over the course of human history? Absolutely.
Originally published by Medium.